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A Study of Hawthorne   By: (1851-1898)

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E text prepared by Eric Eldred, Tonya Allen, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

A STUDY OF HAWTHORNE

BY

GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP.

[Illustration]

CONTENTS.

I. POINT OF VIEW

II. SALEM

III. BOYHOOD. COLLEGE DAYS. FANSHAWE

IV. TWILIGHT OF THE TWICE TOLD TALES

V. AT BOSTON AND BROOK FARM

VI. THE OLD MANSE

VII. THE SCARLET LETTER.

VIII. LENOX AND CONCORD: PRODUCTIVE PERIOD

IX. ENGLAND AND ITALY

X. THE LAST ROMANCE

XI. PERSONALITY

XII. POE, IRVING, HAWTHORNE

XIII. THE Loss AND THE GAIN

APPENDIX I.

APPENDIX II.

APPENDIX III.

INDEX

A STUDY OF HAWTHORNE.

I.

POINT OF VIEW.

This book was not designed as a biography, but is rather a portrait. And, to speak more carefully still, it is not so much this, as my conception of what a portrait of Hawthorne should be. For I cannot write with the authority of one who had known him and had been formally intrusted with the task of describing his life. On the other hand, I do not enter upon this attempt as a mere literary performance, but have been assisted in it by an inward impulse, a consciousness of sympathy with the subject, which I may perhaps consider a sort of inspiration. My guide has been intuition, confirmed and seldom confuted by research. Perhaps it is even a favoring fact that I should never have seen Mr. Hawthorne; a personality so elusive as his may possibly yield its traits more readily to one who can never obtrude actual intercourse between himself and the mind he is meditating upon. An honest report upon personal contact always has a value denied to the reviews of after comers, yet the best criticism and biography is not always that of contemporaries.

Our first studies will have a biographical scope, because a certain grouping of facts is essential, to give point to the view which I am endeavoring to present; and as Hawthorne's early life has hitherto been but little explored, much of the material used in the earlier chapters is now for the first time made public. The latter portion of the career may be treated more sketchily, being already better known; though passages will be found throughout the essay which have been developed with some fulness, in order to maintain a correct atmosphere, compensating any errors which mere opinions might lead to. Special emphasis, then, must not be held to show neglect of points which my space and scope prevent my commenting on. But the first outline requiring our attention involves a distant retrospect.

The history of Hawthorne's genius is in some sense a summary of all New England history.

From amid a simple, practical, energetic community, remarkable for its activity in affairs of state and religion, but by no means given to dreaming, this fair flower of American genius rose up unexpectedly enough, breaking the cold New England sod for the emission of a light and fragrance as pure and pensive as that of the arbutus in our woods, in spring. The flower, however, sprang from seed that rooted in the old colonial life of the sternly imaginative pilgrims and Puritans. Thrusting itself up into view through the drift of a later day, it must not be confounded with other growths nourished only by that more recent deposit; though the surface drift had of course its own weighty influence in the nourishment of it. The artistic results of a period of action must sometimes be looked for at a point of time long subsequent, and this was especially sure to be so in the first phases of New England civilization. The settlers in this region, in addition to the burdens and obstacles proper to pioneers, had to deal with the cares of forming a model state and of laying out for posterity a straight and solid path in which it might walk with due rectitude. All this was in itself an ample enough subject to occupy their powerful imaginations. They were enacting a kind of sacred epic, the dangers and the dignity and exaltation of which they felt most fervently... Continue reading book >>




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